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  • Writer's pictureLaryssa Levesque

8 Signs of Stress That You Shouldn’t Ignore

Updated: Mar 2

Let’s face it, we all get a little stressed sometimes! Stress is a part of life, but it can also be an important warning sign that something isn't quite right. Whether it's due to work, relationships, or just everyday life, excessive stress can have serious consequences for our mental and physical health. If you're worried about your stress levels and wondering if it's getting out of control, then keep reading as we discuss eight signs of stress that you absolutely shouldn't ignore.


signs of stress

Signs of Stress You Shouldn't Ignore


As we said, everyone experiences stress from time to time, and in short doses stress can actually be helpful for motivation and performance when overcoming challenges or completing goals. This "good" stress is called eustress and will dissipate after the goal, challenge, or threat is resolved, thus returning our body back to homeostasis (aka balance).


However, prolonged, chronic stress can have serious detriments to our overall wellbeing. But in a society that seems to almost be addicted to stress, normalizing and glamourizing stress as if were a badge of honour...how can we tell if we are so stressed to the point of needing help? Well, don't stress- here are 8 signs of stress that you absolutely shouldn't ignore!


1. Physical Symptoms 


Physical and mental health are intimately connected, so it’s no surprise that one of the most obvious signs that your stress levels are becoming a cause for concern is physical symptoms. These can include symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems, and fatigue. Stress can even suppress your immune system, so watch out for more frequent colds.


If you find yourself experiencing any of these on a regular basis, it's important to take note and address them. When left alone, physical symptoms can worsen and become a significant issue on top of whatever stress you’re already struggling with. If you’re noticing physical changes that could be due to stress, talk to your doctor about potential solutions to manage your symptoms and get your stress back to a manageable level. 


2. Changes in Appetite 


Have you ever just felt like eating a bag of chips or something sweet when you’re really stressed? You’re not alone! Stress can also affect our appetite, causing us to overeat or undereat, which can change our eating habits over time and may even lead to disordered eating issues. If you find yourself turning to comfort food to deal with your stress or you just can’t bring yourself to eat, it's important to take a closer look at why that might be. 


3. Mood Swings 


It’s normal for us to feel various emotions throughout the day based on what we’re experiencing in our lives. But sometimes drastic and frequent mood swings, or feeling irritable, angry, anxious, or depressed can also be a sign of stress. If you find yourself snapping at your loved ones for no reason or struggling to find joy in things you used to love, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate your stress levels. 


4. Difficulty Sleeping


We all have nights here and there where we can’t get to sleep, or don’t sleep well. But if you find yourself tossing and turning all night or waking up feeling exhausted on a consistent basis, it's important to consider whether your stress levels could be at fault. Stress can wreak havoc on our sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep; it can even cause more significant sleep disorders.  If not addressed, lack of quality sleep can start to significantly impact how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally and can make daily functioning difficult. 


Check out our article on tips for getting a good night's sleep here and learn more about how anxiety can impact sleep here!


5. Memory Problems 


Have you ever noticed when you’re really stressed that you may feel flustered, distracted, or forgetful? You’re not imagining it! Stress can affect our memory, our ability to concentrate, and can even impair the brain's ability to encode and retrieve information.


High levels of stress hormones like cortisol can affect the hippocampus, a key area of the brain responsible for memory formation and retrieval. Chronic stress can also lead to inflammation and structural changes in the brain that can affect memory and cognitive function. Memory issues may include forgetfulness, difficulty remembering names or details, and trouble concentrating or multitasking.


6. Lack of Motivation 


Feeling unmotivated or uninterested in things you used to enjoy can also be a sign of stress. Chronic stress can drain your energy level and affect the brain's reward and motivation systems. When the body is under constant stress, it produces hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that can lead to fatigue and decreased motivation. Additionally, stress can lead to negative thought patterns and feeling overwhelmed, making it difficult to feel motivated and engaged in daily activities.  


7. Feeling Overwhelmed 


Feeling overwhelmed can also be a common sign of excessive stress. When stress levels become too high, it can be difficult to manage or cope with daily tasks and responsibilities. People may feel as though they have too much on their plate, and not enough time or resources to accomplish everything they need to do. This can lead to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and even panic. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with work, family, or social obligations, it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities and take steps to manage your stress levels. 


8. Isolating Yourself


Feeling isolated or isolating yourself can be another sign of excessive stress. When stress levels are high, people may withdraw from social interactions and feel disconnected from others. They may feel like they are alone in their struggles and that no one understands what they are going through. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and even depression. It is important to recognize the connection between stress and isolation and to take steps to prevent isolation from worsening.


The Bottom Line


Stress is something that affects us all, but it's important to pay attention to the signs that your stress levels are becoming unmanageable. If you're experiencing any of the signs mentioned above, it’s crucial to take note and address the issue before it escalates. 


If these signs of stress seem all too familiar to you, Inner Growth’s counsellors in Barrie are here to help! We have various virtual and in-person therapy services in Barrie to suit your needs and help you address your mental health concerns. Contact us to schedule your free 15 minute consultation or to book a full session. You deserve to feel your best both physically and mentally!


 

Our team of online and in-person counsellors and psychotherapists in Barrie provide quality and effective mental health counselling services near you in Barrie and virtually across Ontario to individuals (6+), couples and families. We also offer an Affordable Therapy Program that provides counselling services in Barrie to individuals (12+) who are facing financial challenges that need mental health support.

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